This is not an easy time for young people who are just getting on the employment ladder and today I raised the situation of local apprentices on the Education Committee. 350 of Suffolk New College’s 450 apprentices are currently on furlough and there is significant concern that many of them may not have an apprenticeship to go back to. We must look at what we can do to ensure that apprentices can complete their qualifications and don’t fall behind.
There are also many fewer businesses offering apprenticeships next year which will significantly reduce the funding colleges like Suffolk New College receive for the teaching element of apprenticeships they provide. Even before Covid-19 there was a general recognition that more investment was needed in apprenticeships and technical education, but due to the virus further education colleges are now facing a particularly acute impact on their finances.
In response to me on the Committee today, the Chief Executive of the Association of the Association of Colleges, David Hughes, underlined how about £2bn of colleges’ income is at risk for the next academic year out of a total £7bn.
This comes at a time when our further education colleges couldn’t be more important for getting young people well-trained and into our economy. And I will do everything I can to support all our colleges and further education providers in Ipswich. I will support more funding for them to meet these unprecedented challenges wherever possible.
Further to my recent interventions on the issue, today I sent a joint letter with Cllr David Ellesmere (Ipswich Borough Council, Leader) to the Chair of Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group. They will make a decision next month on whether or not the proposal to transfer elective Orthopaedic services from Ipswich Hospital to a new centre in Colchester will go ahead. I think if ever there was a time to put Party politics to one side this is it. Essentially as the two most senior elected representatives in Ipswich we have both come to the same conclusion. That conclusion is that what is proposed is bad for our Hospital and not in the interests of the people we represent.
When I was elected I said as the local MP I would fight for our local Hospital and not be afraid to take stands that I believe to be in the best interests of my constituents, even against considerable resistance. To be honest the only people whose views I really care about are those of my constituents. I trust that most of you will believe that I am doing the right thing.
I’m looking forward to going on a socially distanced bar crawl in Ipswich on 4th July to support our local pubs after the Prime Minister announced today that they will be able to reopen on that date.
As well as pubs, a number of changes were set out today to the lockdown which will allow people to see more of their friends and families, and allow more businesses to reopen their doors to customers.
From July 4:
Pubs 🍻 and restaurants 🍝 can reopen
Hairdressers 💇can reopen
Hotels and B&Bs 🏨 will also be able to reopen their doors.
2 households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures
If they can do so safely, other hospitality businesses and community centres will also be able to welcome back customers and visitors, they include:
Places of worship and community centres. 🛐
Outdoor gyms 🏋️
Museums and galleries 🖼️
Theme parks and arcades 🎢
And libraries and social clubs. 📚
The Prime Minister also announced that the guidance will allow people to keep a one-metre plus distance from each other when two-metre distances aren’t possible.
We must continue to make reducing the spread of Covid-19 our top priority and that’s why “close proximity” venues such as nightclubs, indoor gyms, water parkers, bowling alleys and spas will remain closed for now.
As long as we stay vigilant, this summer presents an unmissable opportunity for all of us in Ipswich to rally around our local businesses and support them with our custom. The support they have received throughout the lockdown has been essential but it’s just as important that they can reopen successfully and start to get back on their feet. I’m looking forward to visiting many of them as soon as I can.
Yesterday I spoke in a debate on the BBC’s regional politics coverage in the wake of BBC plans to cut its local TV news output to reduce costs.
I, and I think many others, have had mixed views on the future of the licence fee but have stopped short of calling for it to be scrapped partly because of the BBC’s regional and local news coverage and its importance to local democracy and keeping people up-to-date on issues which don’t always make national headlines.
Senior executives at the BBC should be careful what they wish for with these plans. Public confidence in the national broadcaster is already shaky with increased concerns of bias in the Corporation’s national news coverage recently and out of touch decisions like the blocking of past episodes Little Britain and other comedies. These plans to cut local TV news coverage, which also set a worrying precedent for radio and stations like BBC Radio Suffolk, could be the tipping point which causes many more people to fundamentally call into question the licence fee and the future of the BBC in its current form.
I hope the BBC will hear the concerns raised by many MPs this afternoon and look instead at tackling the real issues which are causing audiences to become increasingly frustrated.
Today the Home Secretary made a statement on the horrific terrorist attack we saw in Reading at the weekend. And I asked her whether she thought our legal system is becoming a roadblock which prevents elected governments taking decisions in the best interests the law-abiding majority.
It appears the suspect in the Reading attack was a foreign national who came here illegally in 2012 but was granted asylum in 2018 despite having being jailed for other crimes as well.
We must have a legal system which allows us to deal with illegal immigration and to deport those who pose a risk to our country. This is the overwhelming view of the public but not it seems of certain liberal sections of our legal profession which exploit loopholes in our legal system to keep criminal foreign nationals in the UK.
I’m glad the Home Secretary is working to overcome the obstacles currently preventing more deportations and I will support the implementation of her plans as soon as possible.